Friday, September 25, 2020

Confused dot com


There’s bit a seismic shift today in politics here. The SNP has backtracked on their ill-conceived Hate Crime Bill.  It was badly put together and would curtail any kind of freedom of speech, ANY kind. Indeed, I could go to prison for seven years just for saying that ‘I dislike the SNP’, as the word Scottish is in there and therefore I am being critical of a national identity and therefore racist. You are probably thinking that I’m taking that too far but it was one of the examples put forward in a very well written newspaper column. Even Val McDermid, a huge nationalist and a friend of Nicola says the bill is a real threat to creative freedom. It was simply all encompassing and the bill has today been sent back to be reconsidered.

From today’s Daily Record

“We applaud any attempts to tackle bigotry and sectarianism in Scotland but the climb down on the Hate Crime Bill is welcome and necessary. It is not the first time the SNP Government has found itself reversing out of these difficulties. The challenges of balancing the rights to free speech and civil exchanges with the need to tackle the most extreme hate speech are well known. The proposed new crime of “stirring up hatred” against protected groups could mean that old jokes about a Scotsman, an Irishman and an Englishman walk into a bar could be considered more than just lame patter. More seriously, considered criticism of individuals could be interpreted as an offence against a whole group, while open debate on issues from trans rights to religious views could be curtailed. Policing the law, as was the case with the ill-fated Offensive Behaviour at Football Act, could be a nightmare too. As with that ill-judged piece of legislation, there were already existing laws that if enforced could deal with the problem of hate speech and bigotry.  Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf has made the right decision to pause now and rethink the bill before the legislation becomes an unworkable mess.”


And now I believe we have such a person as a sensitivity reader for novels that are err… well what? 

I had one of those lunches yesterday, the ones were you cheer up a friend who has just had a difficult email from the editor of the new book.  The editor was female. She liked the book, but wanted the lead female character to be more upbeat, positive and be a good role model for women. I’ve read the book and thought the main character was fine. In the previous two books, that character is devastated by the death of her dad, she suffers a miscarriage and then somebody bleeds to death in her arms; she’s at a crossroads in her life, emotionally and professionally, and there’s sense of deep vulnerability, and that fuels her to do what she does in this book. I’d be rather surprised if she was full of jokes and the joy of life; she’s still determined and pushes through her personal pain to get the job done. The editor thought this might be a weak role model.


Then, I was reading a review of one of my books by a lady was outraged that my book was even published at all, as I am one of the ‘most sexist writers’ she has ever read. Me?  Ok, so I read on wondering what had rattled her cage so much. She had ignored the other three female characters in the book - professional cops written in a very neutral way, and she focused the entire review on one female cop whose behaviour and appearance are indeed described in a rather sexual way, simply because she was that kind of character. And here we start to walk in the mire.  There is, whether we like it or not, a type of woman, who wears clothes a little too tight, not enough buttons being done up, who flirts with make colleagues and disses her female ones.  They will crap on their female colleagues in meetings, but be as nice as nine pence to them one to one. And of course woman do have the right to dress as they wish, as do men but in the professional context, I think society likes a certain  code of conduct  from both sexes, or any identifying gender.  The character in the book was that type of person. Those people do exist. End of.

Would I be allowed to write that now?  What should my friend do? Write all women to a super strong stereotype?


And I’m not sure we are fighting the right war. There’s a glossy magazine in front of me that has an article in support of  the right  of women to have facial moustaches and beards if they desire while every second page in the magazine  is an advert featuring size  6/8 ( Size zero in the US I think) female models, all five feet ten with no body hair.  

Meanwhile, in the day to day world, Scotland has gone into another mini lockdown. Out at the coffee house to meet somebody as we are not allowed in each other’s houses, a man came in with another man; a carer and a vulnerable person. The latter had that ten yard confusion of dementia (he wasn’t very old), his eyes trying to make sense of the masks, the distance between the tables, a table with nothing on it. His carer tried to make it all ok, pointing out the familiar, ordering tea and shortbread, his hand never leaving  the forearm of his charge, a comforting touch in a world that must be so alien.  


Caro on the Clyde.

1 comment:

  1. Our hate crime is running again for President. Add to that Covid, political correctness, and general uneasiness and all I can say is AAAARRRRGGGHHH.